The FBI said Friday that the man accused of shooting nine parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, last month should not have been allowed to buy a gun.
The FBI said Dylann Roof was able to purchase a .45-caliber Glock handgun in April, eight days after he turned 21, because of a breakdown in the agency's background check system.
Roof should have been barred from buying the gun because of a previous admission that he was in possession of illegal drugs. The admission should have prevented him from purchasing a gun, according to FBI rules.
FBI Director James Comey said that because the information was not properly entered into the database of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the examiner reviewing Roof’s request to buy a gun never saw it.
The gun purchased in April was the one used in the shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Comey said in a meeting with reporters at FBI headquarters in Washington.
“We are all sick that this happened," he added. "We wish that we could turn back time.”
Roof was arrested at a shopping mall in February and found to be in possession of a controlled substance commonly used to treat heroin addiction. It was at that time he admitted to being in possession of an illegal drug.
Comey said he was informed of the lapse Thursday evening and had ordered a review into the FBI’s background check system.
“This case rips all of our hearts out, but the thought that an error on our part is connected to a gun this person used to slaughter these people is very painful to us,” he said.